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In a Behavior Description Interview (BDI), candidates are asked to describe past experiences that demonstrate skills and abilities important for the position (Janz, 1982). A recent study by Huffcutt et al. (2020) found that only around half of participants (48.1 percent) describe an experience reflecting maximal performance capability. Random mixing of maximal capability with day-to-day typical performance tendencies is problematic psychometrically because candidates are not all providing comparable information and top candidates could be overlooked. Given notable methodological concerns with Huffcutt et al.’s approach, our first purpose was to provide empirical confirmation that maximal responding in BDIs is, in fact, inconsistent. Our estimate of the proportion of maximal responding was even lower (41.3 percent), further amplifying concerns when assessment of maximal performance capability is desired (e.g., for many professional positions). The second purpose was to investigate two factors that could increase the consistency of maximal responding: rewording the main BDI question to focus directly on absolute top-end experiences (i.e., priming) and longer response length. Both were found to have significant effects. A number of directions for future research were identified, which, along with these findings, could help researchers move closer to the long-term goal of uniform description of experiences that reflect each candidate’s maximal capability (or typical tendencies if so desired).

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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Allen I Huffcutt




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